Perception digital art museum debuts on the Las Vegas Strip

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Immersive art experiences are flooding into Vegas these days, from Omega Mart and Van Gogh at Area15 to Arcadia Earth on the Strip.

Perception, the new, free-standing digital art museum on the Boulevard just north of Circus Circus, bills itself as Las Vegas’ first permanent attraction of its kind, and it certainly stands out in its own way.

The 17,000-square-foot venue launched earlier this month with Leonardo: The Universal Man, which chronicles Leonardo da Vinci’s life and work. Perception will rotate exhibits from there, with tickets running from $19 to $35. Free parking is available.

The hourlong, three-gallery experience begins with “The Gallery: Mona Lisa’s Perception,” featuring six digital versions of the “Mona Lisa,” hanging in one room. At first, they appear to be replicas of the famous painting, but when you stand before them, they come alive, displaying lively LED art. On the far wall, facts about da Vinci’s life are displayed while Debussy’s “Clair de Lune” plays over the speakers.

The second room’s “Painting With Light: The Last Supper” is a visual expedition of light and sound. The room is mostly dark, with dim but colorful lighting projected onto the walls and ceiling, accompanied by an original score. That all leads up a grand finale, the unveiling of “The Last Supper,” da Vinci’s famous depiction of Jesus and the 12 apostles. Younger audiences will likely enjoy the Vegas-esque, rave-y experience.

Perception’s third and final chapter, “Grand Salon: Chapters of the Genius’ Life,” takes place in a 28-foot-tall, four-wall theater. Here, a 35-minute film plays, showcasing da Vinci’s accomplishments. Viewers will see cathedrals take shape and his ornithopter flying machine take flight. It provides a calming sensation after the excitement of the first two rooms.

Perception comes from the imaginations of nightlife pioneer Robert Frey and entrepreneur Ned Collett. Dutch multidisciplinary creative agency TWOFIFTYK—which has created digital entertainment for the likes of the Electric Daisy Carnival—was enlisted to help bring the artwork to life.

Debuting with a da Vinci exhibit was a no-brainer for Frey, a big fan of the Italian polymath. “I think there’s so much you can tackle. Besides his paintings, he was a scientist—studying the body architecture—and he used to be a phenomenal set designer for the theater,” Frey explains. “He was a mathematician … his mind was unbelievable. He was 200 or 300 years away from anyone. Everything he’s done is just remarkable.”

At times, these immersive experiences can feel somewhat overwhelming, a bit of sensory overload for the unprepared. But while serious art aficionados might balk, a place like Perception can bring a fresh perspective for more casual viewers open to absorbing art in a more modern way. After all, what if da Vinci had never brought his unconventional ideas to art, anatomy or engineering?

PERCEPTION 2780 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 702-476-9069, perceptionlasvegas.com. Daily, 11 a.m.-8 p.m., $19-$35.

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